So, the Senate Should Probably Confirm High-Up EPA Officials, Huh?

Erika Johnsen

5/10/2012 6:40:00 PM - Erika Johnsen

The senior Republican senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, is on fire. A couple weeks back, his office unearthed a video of an EPA regional administrator outlining his "crucify them" policy toward polluters -- poignantly revealing how such higher-up government jobs tend to attract overzealous, damn-the-costs, power-tripping bureaucrats who fancy themselves Mother Earth's crusaders. The EPA official in question has since resigned, but from the kerfuffle, Sen. Inhofe is extracting a simple yet brilliant moral: perhaps Congress should be canvassing these characters before they're hired, no?

Republicans are floating legislation that would require Senate confirmation of the Environmental Proction Agency’s top regional officials, a plan that follows the resignation of an Obama administration appointee who compared enforcement of environmental laws to crucifixion.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), backed by members including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), introduced a bill Wednesday to make EPA’s 10 regional administrators subject to confirmation, thereby giving lawmakers power to vet — and block — appointment of the officials.

“When EPA's recent 'crucify them' strategy towards American energy producers, proclaimed by the former EPA Region 6 Administrator, came to light, it brought attention to the serious lack of oversight on EPA's actions in these powerful regional offices,” Inhofe said in a statement.

Senate confirmation is already required for all kinds of government positions, and the EPA gets a lot of criticism for being a freewheeling independent federal agency drunk on its own expansive powers -- why not add this to the list of check and balances between the legislative and executive branch? I'm surprised nobody's thought of it before, and it really doesn't seem like a particularly controversial or partisan idea... but, of course, nothing is easy these days:

...While the new bill faces long odds, Inhofe suggested that Republicans will use it as a rallying point for continued criticism of EPA.

“My bill will provide an important opportunity to shine the light on recent EPA actions underway at the regional offices,” Inhofe said. His 20 cosponsors include several members of the Senate GOP leadership team, such as Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).